Faced with their own financially pinched service levels, top cops in Inyo and Mono Counties seem doubtful that they can help Mammoth Lakes much with its manpower shortage in the police department.
Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson and Lieutenant John Mair recently met with Bishop Police Chief Chris Carter and Undersheriffs Keith Hardcastle of Inyo and Ralph Obenberger of Mono to talk about possible help. Chief Watson said they asked the officials about “hiring their personnel to fill regular shifts in Mammoth when the police department can’t because of shortages.”
Chief Carter said that the chiefs and undersheriffs discussed if Mammoth Lakes Police could supplement their ranks by using officers from other departments and reimburse for overtime pay, workers compensation and other costs. Chief Carter said, “Every agency is short on personnel. I’m down two officers even with two new ones coming on board. Other agencies expressed the same thing,” he said. Ironically, former Mammoth Police Officer Ron Gladding, who just left the Mammoth PD, went to work for the Bishop Police Department December 1st.
Inyo Sheriff Bill Lutze said his Undersheriff Keith Hardcastle attended the meeting with Chief Watson. Lutze said, “We listened to his request. I sent him cost figures for off-duty personnel who would volunteer. But at this time,” said Sheriff Lutze, “it is doubtful we could supply the number of personnel they need. Our priority is Inyo County.”
Lutze said that on average it would cost $70 an hour including travel time for one of his officers to work overtime in Mammoth. He said the cost would also include 65 cents per mile, a per diem for food and lodging, and administrative fees. When officers would have to testify in criminal cases, that would cost more overtime for the officer testifying and overtime for someone to fill in for that officer.
Undersheriff Obenberger said, “Speaking for the Mono County Sheriff’s Office, but similar to Bishop PD and Inyo Sheriff, we are currently shorthanded regarding our staffing. We are down 3-4 deputies, with 1 of our deputies still in training with a training officer. With that said, we currently have a difficult time filling our own shifts with our personnel.
“I told Chief Watson” said Obenberger, “that currently we do not have the manpower levels to assist MLPD with coverage relating to their daily shifts. We will however continue to assist with special events as we have in the past, such as the Night of Lights or New Years Eve, and as always will respond immediately to assist their agency anytime there is an emergency situation occurring or if they ask for mutual aid for a large scale event.” The other law enforcement agencies have also traditionally helped with special events and emergencies.
Mammoth Chief Watson will report his findings to Town officials later this month or next month, according to Administrative Services Director Marianna Marysheva-Martinez.